Nova Scotia

NDP fight to hang on to Dartmouth-Cole Harbour riding

The tables have turned this time for the Liberals and NDP as they battle it out again in the riding of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

Liberals battle to retrieve riding won by Robert Chisholm in 2011

The candidates for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour include, from left, Robert Chisholm (New Democrat), Jason Cole (Conservative), Darren Fisher (Liberal) and Brynn Nheiley (Green). (The Canadian Press, Conservative Party, CBC, Green Party)

The tables have turned this time for the Liberals and NDP as they battle it out again in the riding of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

In 2011, New Democrat Robert Chisholm rode a surging Jack Layton-led national campaign to a squeaker of a victory, winning by 500 votes — or 1 per cent of the vote — over Liberal Mike Savage.

The three-term MP was counting on incumbency.

"Nobody's told me I've been a bad member of Parliament," Savage said shortly before a defeat that would eventually lead him to the Halifax mayoralty.

Now it's Chisholm running on his record as a hard-working MP.

"Regardless of what's happening nationally they appreciate the kind of work I've been putting in — the hard work I've been putting in over the last four and a half years," he said.

Uphill battles

Liberal challenger Darren Fisher — a municipal councillor on leave — is talking up his party's leader.

"People are really catching on to Justin Trudeau. They are impressed," he said.

The Conservatives have turned to pastor and businessman Jason Cole, whose family operates the resurfacing company Permacrete.

"I love helping the poor, it's my life's goal. I believe the Conservative Party is the best way to achieve those goals. We believe in a strong economy," he said. 

With a smile, Cole predicts a close race again between the Liberals and New Democrats "for second place."

However, the Conservatives have the farthest to go in trying to win the riding of 90,000.

Under the leadership of Stephen Harper, the party has never polled higher than 25 per cent in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. 

Fisher says getting rid of Harper is the number one issue in the riding.

"There really is a desire at the doors right now for a change in government." 

Green Party candidate Brynn Nheiley is her party's interim leader in Nova Scotia. She holds her Masters of Planning Degree from Dalhousie University, as well as a degree in Architectural Science from Ryerson University. 

In Halifax, she works with a planning firm that helps municipal, provincial, federal, private-sector and nonprofit stakeholders.

No risk of vote splitting

A group advocating strategic voting in order to ensure Harper's defeat, strategicvoting.ca, says polls show the Conservatives are "non-viable" in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour and the two Halifax ridings.

The site informs voters it's safe to vote for either the NDP or the Liberals.

Fisher's message to those seeking change: "Come on over."

At Alderney Gate on the Dartmouth waterfront, Taiya Barss is blunt about what she wants in this election.

"I really want to get rid of Harper. I think he is an evil influence," she said.

Over a coffee at Alderney Gate, Bill Daoust says has been undecided. But he's leaning to the NDP for reasons bound to hearten Chisholm.

"Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe Bob Chisholm may be a strong candidate around here. He's kept a pretty high profile," he said.

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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